Man questioned after crime spree ends with Shorewood-area worker dead

Tribune reporter

A man being questioned in the beating death of a longtime employee at a Will County business was caught after another worker arrived at the company this morning and confronted the suspected attacker, police said.

Dead is a 69-year-old man who is believed to have been a longtime employee at Knauer’s Wilbert Vault, Inc., 19515 North East Frontage Rd., in Will County near Shorewood, said Will County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Ken Kaupas. The victim, who has not yet been identified, died in the business after police were called just before 9 a.m. following a report of a fight in progress, Kaupas said.

Investigators believe the man being questioned in the employee's slaying tried to break into a garage in the Saddlebrook Estates subdivision, east of County Line Road and Black Road, in Shorewood between about 7:15 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. today, Kaupas said. When a homeowner confronted the man in the garage, he fled on foot to a nearby farm in the 25800 block of Black Road in unincorporated Troy Township, Kaupas said.

The man is then believed to have stolen a black pickup truck from an outbuilding on the farm before driving it about four miles east, to near Black Road just west of Interstate 55, where he abandoned it and police found it, Kaupas said.

Officers from Will County, Shorewood and the Illinois State Police were among those involved in searching for the man, and just before 9 a.m., police received word that there was a fight in progress at Knauer's, Kaupas said.

When police arrived, they were told by an employee that he had confronted a man coming out of the business and struggled with him briefly before the man fled on foot, Kaupas said.

Police found the other employee inside the business, critically injured after apparently being beaten. He died a short time later, before he could be taken to a hospital, Kaupas said. Coroner's information on the death was not immediately available.

Officers soon also found the attacker, hiding in brush and weeds near the business, and arrested him, Kaupas said. The 42-year-old is being questioned by investigators. No charges have been filed.

Wilbert Funeral Services is a 120-year-old company founded in Chicago that's the world's largest supplier of concrete burial vaults and cremation supplies, according to the company's website.

Twitter: @ltaford

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